NYOB

Dear Government,

What happens in my body is my business.

You didn’t make my body your business when I was molested as a child, raped as a teenager, or sex trafficked as a young adult.

You didn’t notice when I struggled to access birth control due to poverty.

You didn’t mind when I was trapped in toxic relationships with misogynistic, manipulative men who drove me to contemplate suicide.

You didn’t pay a dime when I asked my health insurance to cover the care I needed.

In part thanks to the abortions obtained through no help from you, I am a physician now.

You devour the tax money I earn with my blood, sweat, and tears. You are undeserving of my sacrifices.

You need to back off.

What I do with my body is none of your business.

You didn’t care about my body before, don’t pretend to care now.

My body knows the truth.

But truth, like freedom, equality, or justice, isn’t your business.

Raging

The Supreme Court has me raging today.

I feel fire in my veins, each heartbeat fans the flames.

Would you like a cup of tea? My blood is boiling, don’t want to waste it.

Like I didn’t want to waste my life by staying in injurious relationships that were slowly killing me so I pulled the plug and let unwanted pregnancies wash down the drain.

The body will choose survival over reproduction, every time.

My abortions provided instant relief for my body and brain, another chance at life, freed from shackles that no one saw but that would have destroyed me just the same.

Forced pregnancy is a grave injustice with adverse repercussions for the individual, families and society. Unsafe abortions are horrific, unnecessary and dangerous.

What is this nightmare I woke up to today?

I am burning with rage.

A Tale of 3 Abortions

For my first abortion, I was on a tropical island under general anesthesia, outside the barbarity of having an abortion in the USA.
A small push of the creamy contents of a syringe swiftly pulled me into a dreamless sleep, the edges of my consciousness tingled briefly before collapsing into painless, silent darkness
Sweet surrender, I welcomed it in
The next thing I remember, I was in the post-operative area, being encouraged to wake up by a soft voice and gentle nudges. Still silly from sedation, I put my arm around the friendly nurse and rested my head on her shoulder. We laughed.

‘Everything went well’ said the doctor afterwards, ‘but you should try to prevent future abortions because every procedure has its risks’

Good advice
That I didn’t take.
I tried. I made several attempts to get an IUD, however I returned home without birth-control every time. One clinic didn’t stock IUDs, another was closed despite my appointment for an IUD insertion. I know I neglected myself, I should have prioritized it more, but self-neglect is a habit that was brutally beaten into my developing brain by my family.

To my family, I give thanks for my successes and my failures. Failure is merely opportunity in disguise.

My second abortion was in a crowded clinic in Philadelphia. The doctor didn’t tell me his name, or say a word to me. He seemed grumpy and rushed, which was to be expected. It was two days before Christmas, and songs about the holy infant baby Jesus wafted through the crowded waiting room of women desperate to have abortions- abortions which were delayed by a sexist legal policy requiring them to view a short video about the risks of having an abortion several days before their abortion could take place.

A volunteer hand-holder allowed me to squeeze her hand throughout the most painful few minutes of my life, telling me I was great at remembering to breathe as my cervix was forced open and the contents of my uterus were sucked out. In the recovery area, in so much pain I felt like I was dying, a volunteer pastor brought me crackers and ginger ale- silver lining of the brutal cloud of having an abortion without analgesia.

For my third abortion, I was blessed with a doula and nitrous oxide to take the edge off of anxiety and pain. A medical student on the care team was my abortion DJ- playing whatever music I requested from her phone (I asked for Bob Marley, to remind me that every little thing is gonna be alright). As I inhaled and exhaled the nitrous oxide through my mouth, I thought to myself, ‘I was made for this’. Years of yoga practice had prepared me for the mindful breathing necessary to receive nitrous oxide, and within a few breaths, I embarked on a spiritual journey.

Throughout my cosmic trip, my abortion doula guided me. She would gently remind me to relax my forehead and drop my shoulders away from my ears, told me how strong I was and what a great job I was doing, fanned me when I started to sweat, bringing me back to a place of peace and ease. Most of the time, the abortion clinic room had faded away and I did not realize that time was passing- perhaps it wasn’t.

My doula reminded me to lengthen my exhales by telling me to ‘blow out all those candles on the birthday cake’. In my shamanic trance, from the perspective that existence is a timeless field of elements and particles, of light and vibration, I knew that no one is ever really born and no one ever really dies.

Abortions are difficult. The decision to have an abortion, the experience itself, and the lifelong emotional reaction to it are all really tough. Electing to end a pregnancy has innate emotional complexity. There is a moment just before each of my three abortions when I thought, ‘It is not too late, I can run out of here and keep this pregnancy’, and I felt torn, no matter how sure I felt about the abortion going into it. Even with nitrous oxide, my third abortion was still breathtakingly painful, however feeling united with existence on the quantum level, understanding the immortality of all being, was worth it in and of itself.

I’m glad that I had every one of my abortions, as continuing my pregnancies would have been far worse. Although it breaks my heart to mourn my could’ve-been-babies, I didn’t feel supported by society, my family or my partners in any of my pregnancies. I’m glad that I will not have another abortion, praise be to my IUD.

A woman who has a miscarriage and retains the embryo, fetus or placenta in her uterus is allowed to have it removed in the operating room under full anesthesia, yet women electing to end a pregnancy must endure the same procedure in excruciating pain. To be freed from an unwanted pregnancy, however, is worth it every time.

Dear reader, I hope you never have to experience an abortion, however should the need arise, I hope you are blessed with a hand to hold, encouraging words, and by grace, nitrous oxide.

Triggerfinger

I wish I wasn’t so easily trauma triggered
It doesn’t take much to push me out of touch with feeling safe
A slightly raised voice makes me lose all choice but to
freeze and collapse
The physiology of my stress response takes over
Though I try to stop it, my heart races, my pulse pounds, a heaviness crushes my chest, suffocating me, it feels like I can’t breathe
How long has it been since I last took a breath?
Now I make a conscious effort to unclamp my rusted-shut jaw from my tongue but the battle is not so easily won
Years later the everyday trauma tape continues to play on loop I feel like I’m still in those moments when I didn’t know what to say, the epic fail drags me down into a pit of mental battering and spirit shattering
‘Good enough’ remains just out of reach
I hold the tension in my body and the voices of my aggressors echo between my ears
I’m caught between anger and tears                                                                                Regretting the past and fearing the future
I worry that if I ever get married or have a baby, my ex-partners will come after me in fits of blind jealousy
The ex’s that have expressed ill-will and death-wishes to me,                                                the ones with guns, violent tendencies and criminal histories                                               God, will I live my whole life without ever feeling safe?                                                    Mental abuse is physical abuse: you can see it, feel it, measure it in my body                       It is detrimental to my health and wellbeing                                                                                    I meditate on being held in a sphere of protective light                                                          and pray that I won’t have nightmares again tonight                                                      Healing the mind is not easy                                                                                                               I am humbled at how quickly I slip into depression and anxiety                                           my constant companions of which I am never truly free                                                       The next time my trauma gets triggered, which will happen soon                                      May I relax the grip of my fingers and remember that I am held in safety                      even when it feels impossible to believe                                                                                          I find peace in remembering that not even my trauma,                                                      which seems to be at the very core of me                                                                                      Is mine to keep                                                                                                                                   All things end eventually